SAMUEL PETREQUIN,AP Sports Writer WETZIKON, Switzerland (AP) Marcus Burghardt of Germany claimed his second stage win at the Tour of Switzerland Friday, while Lance Armstrong remained seventh in the overall standings.
Burghardt rode away from a breakaway group 34 miles from the finish, dropping his competition with a well-timed attack and riding strongly to the finish of the seventh stage, a hilly 127-mile trek from Savognin to Wetzikon.
Burghardt brandished a German flag before crossing the finish line in 4 hours, 52 minutes, 2 seconds. Former world champion Oscar Freire of Spain won a three-man sprint to claim the runner-up spot, 1:01 back.
Germany’s Marcus Burghardt from BMC Racing Team during the 7th stage, a 204,1 km race from Savognin to Wetzikon, in the 74th Tour de Suisse UCI ProTour cycling race, near Wetzikon, Switzerland, Friday, June 18, 2010. (AP Photo / KEYSTONE/Jean-Christophe Bott)
Race leader Robert Gesink of the Netherlands and seven-time Tour de France winner Armstrong finished in the main pack five minutes behind.
“Legs were fine, it was just a cold and stressful day,” Armstrong said. “I felt I had a good recovery from yesterday. I felt OK.”
Armstrong, who is preparing for next month’s Tour de France, climbed to seventh overall after Thursday’s tough mountain stage. Friday was cold and wet, with temperatures as low as 50 degrees, and the Texan didn’t take any risks, spending the whole day in the pack.
Gesink leads Rigoberto Uran of Colombia by 29 seconds in the overall standings. Steve Morabito of Switzerland is third, 36 seconds back, while Armstrong remained 55 seconds off the pace.
The 26-year-old Burghardt, who also captured the fifth stage, decided to compete in the Swiss race at the last minute after recovering from an elbow injury he sustained at the Tour of California this season.
“Those two wins after my fall in California show that the life of a rider is made of up and downs,” Burghardt said.
A one-day classic specialist, Burghardt made his decisive move in the difficult climb of Hulftegg and quickly built a 1-minute lead that he fought to maintain.
“I realized that nobody was able to follow when I attacked and I kept riding at the same pace,” Burghardt said. “I really suffered in the final local loop but I hung on thanks to the support of the spectators who were shouting my name.”
The race started with several unsuccessful attacks on the front before the group of riders including Burghardt broke away after 37 miles.
Gesink’s Rabobank team then controlled the race, making sure the pack was not able to build a bigger lead.
“The first hour of racing was stressful because it took a long time for the breakaway riders to go,” Gesink said. “It was easier after that, even if it was very cold. A lot of riders complained about it.”
US rider Lance Armstrong from team Radioshack, right, in action during the 7th stage, a 204,1 km race from Savognin to Wetzikon, in the 74th Tour de Suisse UCI ProTour cycling race, near Wetzikon, Switzerland, Friday, June 18, 2010. (AP Photo / KEYSTONE/Jean-Christophe Bott) Eds note: Looks like a long day at the office for the group.